Dateline Berlin

9781935554271_f620cThe Berlin International Film Festival does not get as much attention in the U.S. as does Cannes, but one of this year’s featured films, adapted from a book, is getting a bevy of press coverage.

Alone In Berlin stars Brendan Gleeson and Emma Thompson and is directed by Vincent Perez. For all accounts, it is a somber, quiet film with deft acting, not the kind of film that creates buzz.

But buzzy it is and one of the reasons it has become such a juicy topic is the book story behind it.

Alone in Berlin is an adaptation of Hans Fallada’s novel Every Man Dies Alone (Melville House, 2010; OverDrive Sample). Depicting the domestic resistance in Germany to Hitler, it was written just after the end of WWII and was based on Gestapo files kept on the real-life couple Otto and Elise Hampel. Deeply affected by the death of their son during the war, the Hampel’s began handwriting postcards with subversive messages such as “Mothers, Hitler Will Kill Your Son Too” and leaving them in public places around Berlin.

As NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday reports, Fallada was a best selling author between WWI and II, with his books picked as book-of-the-month-club selections and adapted into Hollywood films (which got him blacklisted by the Nazis).

However, Every Man Dies Alone wasn’t published in English until 2009, after Melville House publisher Dennis Johnson heard about the book from the fashion designer Diane von F├╝rstenberg and tracked it down.

When it finally did come out here, it was a best seller and became a NYT‘s Notable Book and one of The New Yorker‘s Favorite Fiction Books of the year.

The film version does not yet have a U.S. distributor but check your copies. Circulation in strong in libraries we checked, with holds lists at many locations.

Charlie Rose featured the book previously:

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